Margarita Jankauskaitė was selected for the 2012 Women Inspiring Europe Calendar.
"A woman has two choices: to be a masochist or a feminist. I've chosen to be a feminist",- says Margarita Jankauskaitė, one of the few women in Lithuania who is not afraid to call herself a feminist.
For over 20 years the project manager of the Equality advancement centre has been raising gender inequality problems to the public and trying to find a solution. In a country led by patriarchal norms - such activity is not easy, but Margarita faces the difficulties and tries to overcome them with a smile. Her contribution was crucial when adopting the most important political decisions and laws on gender equality in Lithuania, The human rights campaigning initiative is not managed without her. Her lectures and stories of gender stereotypes in the media attract many people whom it concerns. Margarita Jankauskaitė's activities are also recognised outside the country.
International organizations - UNDP-Ukraine, the International Gender Policy Network, the Swedish embassy in Vilnius, the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, the Finnish Embassy in Vilnius have invited Margarita as a gender expert to participate in international conferences, seminars and discussions, to provide training for mainstreaming of gender equality issues, thus promoting gender equality, moral values and equal opportunities both in Lithuania and abroad.
"The fact that I was nominated to be one of the women identified by EIGE as an inspiration to Europe is proof of not only my personal appreciation, but also of Lithuanian women's active community performance, which not only gives meaning to the work done, but also inspires us to do more" - smiles Margarita Jankauskaitė. "We can talk about equal opportunities when people are not divided into those who are valued more or less: We have inherited a tradition where everything associated with male characteristics is valued more. Women's activities, starting housework and ending with social, occupational activity are underestimated, "- says Margarita.
In her opinion, biology is often manipulated to suggest that changes are impossible, because of physical differences, however, we should not forget that the concepts of masculinity and femininity can be redefined.
It's not physiological differences which exist between men and women (nor between different races, class, age), but the meaning given to them in any culture. A white, middle-class, heterosexual man is still seen as more valuable than others and it should not be so.
“Membership of the European Union has given a lot to my country and because of the membership requirements, Lithuanian laws are quite advanced, but equality de jure and de facto is still not the same.” M. Jankauskaitė thinks that the greatest worries are trafficking of women, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and equivalent representation of women in politics, and also the threat of the feminisation of poverty. "Very few women have their own businesses. They still have the vast majority of household and childcare responsibilities, an unpaid job after all the laundry, or dinner has to be done by someone "- she says.
"World experience shows that greater gender equality leads to a higher quality of society's life, and this is the perfect foundation for a perfect life," - said Margarita Jankauskaitė wishing that to all Europeans.